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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

B'Trey Re:Shill (534 comments)

Actually, this may not be so bad. If they're not government agencies, then they're not immune to lawsuits and when they bust in the wrong house, that person can sue the hell out of them, right?

about 7 months ago

Cisco Spending Millions of Dollars Secretly Purchasing New Juniper Products

B'Trey Re:And your point is what? (120 comments)

Come as a surprise? If they WEREN'T doing this, then the people running the company would be incompetent and should be tossed out the door.

about 7 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

B'Trey Re:It's all about ME, ME, ME. (255 comments)

The irony is that he's 180 degrees off from the main problem with his story, which is that he thinks robots are magic too. The reason robots will not be making ethical decisions is that they can't, not only because getting them to reason ethically would require us to agree on a system of ethics for them to follow, but because even if they had such a system, they don't have enough data to act on it with the degree of accuracy that would be required for the premise of the article to make sense. The author essentially assumes that these car-driving robots will be omniscient, or that they will be able to trust the omniscience of the robots in other cars with which they are communicating. The first supposition is nonsensical; the second is unlikely to be true, for the same reason that video game cheats are a problem.

He does no such thing. He assumes that the programmers who write the algorithms that control the robots will consider various possible responses to an emergency situation and will use ethical decisions in deciding how to code their algorithms. There may indeed be circumstances where the robot does not all of the data available that would be needed to make a valid ethical decision. Robots will certainly not be omniscient. Their sensors will not be infallible, nor will they be able to accurately discern all of the factors in all of the cases. But that doesn't mean there are no cases in which ethics will play a factor. A robot would almost certainly be able to tell the difference between a bus and a small passenger car, and it's reasonable to assume that the bus carries more passengers than the car, even if there are some cases where that would not be true. If a bus turns left in front of you when you have the right-of-way and the robot calculates that it is unable to avoid a collision altogether, should it hit the bus or swerve into the next lane, hitting the passenger car there? That's a scenario where some variant will almost certainly happen if self-driving cars become common, and it's one the algorithm should take into account. It doesn't at all mean the robot-cars are capable of thinking, of calculating ethics, or are omniscient. The question is how the programmer's writing the algorithms should code the decision making tree.

about 8 months ago

Theo De Raadt's Small Rant On OpenSSL

B'Trey Re:Summary. (301 comments)

True, they did not, but I would put that at the level of mistake rather then being unreasonable.

I'm reasonably certain that the OpenSSL team did not do this on purpose. It likely wasn't a sabotage by a malicious developer. I seriously doubt someone paid the team to intentionally install the bug. You're almost certainly right that it was a mistake. But arrogance, ignorance and other weaknesses lead to mistakes which should not be made, and when they do, it's jake to point the finger. Just because it was a mistake doesn't mean it was out of their control.

about 9 months ago

Shapeshifting: Proposal For a New Periodic Table of the Elements

B'Trey Re:More missing elements, to to be discovered. (87 comments)

I would consider an alternative periodic table a success if it predicts new elements or new interactions that the old one didn't.

This, right here. This is the only valid argument for changing an existing and well-understood model when there's no new evidence to consider.

The Periodic Table isn't a model, or at least not a functional model. It's a chart - a way to represent data. Arguably, a chart is a model of sorts but considering your comment concerning "new evidence," you certainly seem to be implying that it's a model of how things function and this new proposal provides an alternate functional model, which isn't the case. The proposed alternative isn't a new theory of elements. It doesn't change our idea of how things works. It simply presents the same information and understanding in a different way. If the new table doesn't provide any new predictive ability at all but it does, say, present the information in a way that's easier to grasp or makes relationships clearer, then it's worth considering and possibly worth adapting.

about a year and a half ago

Inside PRISM: Why the Government Hates Encryption

B'Trey Re:Other people's back door maybe? (457 comments)

Let's turn that around. Assume, for the moment that (like myself) you are not a US citizen. Now you are told that this surveillance is only carried out on non-US nationals, as if that is somehow OK and the action of a good neighbour.
How would that make you feel?

What happened to "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."? (Emphasis mine.) Granted that the Declaration of Independence isn't legally binding in the way that the Constitution is, there's still no way that you can square the "Constitutional guarantees only apply to citizens" doctrine with the fundamental principle of human rights.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Best To Disconnect Remote Network Access?

B'Trey Re:Get another job? (284 comments)

I was just thinking. If your switch doesn't support this fancy stuff (first, what the heck are you doing, get a managed switch) ...

Exactly. You (the submitter) are aware that this is trivial on any enterprise switch, right? Often, it's not a direct capability to turn the port on and off at a specified time but it's effectively the same. For example, you might create an access list which drops all traffic on a port during a specified timeframe and passes everything outside it. The port is technically still enabled but since no traffic comes in or goes out, it might as well be shut down.

about a year and a half ago

Why We'll Never Meet Aliens

B'Trey Re:Why is this here? (629 comments)

What's even worse is the somehow equivalence of "knowing some random fact" and "being smarter." Wikipedia makes it easier to be smarter, but it also makes it MUCH easier to believe you are smarted... but really you're just lazy.

Did you RTFA?

How many years before we have a brain interface to Google? You'd know everything. And its not crazy to think that soon after we'd find ourselves limited by how slow our brains process information. The obvious next step being to augment our brains, our thinking, and in the process - augment who we are. That's what our scientists will be working on then (and of course, are actually already working on).

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm?

B'Trey Re:Noise canceling headphones (561 comments)

NC headphones help but by themselves won't block out everything. Get some noise-cancelling headphones and play music - just don't play music you like. Find something you don't completely hate but that really doesn't float your boat. Something without vocals is preferable. You can grab all sorts of classical, big band, early jazz ensembles, etc. for free. It's not going to grab your attention and distract you like music you really like, but it will block out the sound around you. At least, that works for me. I use the trick for writing in public spaces.

about 2 years ago

Controversy Over Violet Blue's Harm Reduction Talk

B'Trey Re:Technical conferences should be technical. (562 comments)

The talk was completely off-topic and couldn't possibly improve the environment of the conference.

And, of course, that opinion is the only one that matters, so it's OK to lie and use whatever other cheap, underhanded methods you can use to impose your perspective on everyone else, right? "Rape trigger" is a convenient tool because it shuts down all further conversation.

A: "Rape trigger!"
B: "But I ..."
A: "What, do you support rape? What kind of sleazy, disgusting asshole are you?"
B: (slinks away)

about 2 years ago

Three Low-Tech Hacks for Phones and Tablets

B'Trey Headboard (286 comments)

Aside from the "this is a hack?" issue, get a headboard and clamp the tablet holder to that.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Mathematical Fiction?

B'Trey Re:Too short? (278 comments)

Except for Anathem, which has the most boring, uninteresting start to a book I've ever tried to read. After several attempts I've only made it a few chapters in.

To each his own and different strokes makes the world go 'round, etc. But I found the first half of Anathem incredibly good and the second half (once they left the Math) much less exciting. Part of that may be because I'm a fan and amateur student of philosophy.

more than 2 years ago

Are Windows XP/7 Users Smarter Than a 3-Year-Old?

B'Trey Re:Why change the interface at all (537 comments)

The problem isn't whether or not it's "easy to use".

The problem is that it's designed to be easy to use on tablets and tablets are rubbish for doing real work. On desktop machines ... it's crap.

That fails to explain why a three-year-old has no problems using it ... on a standard desktop PC. Like what the summary describes.

Two things. First, a three year old doesn't have to unlearn years of expectations of a system acting a certain way. Second, what a three year old is trying to accomplish on a PC might be just slightly different from the purposes of a typical business user.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Life After Software Development?

B'Trey Re:Nope. (416 comments)

My advice? Do the responsible thing and stick it out until retirement or mortgage/kiddo's schooling is paid off, then take your walkabout.

You can also start looking for new opportunities but don't quit your day job until you have something solid lined up.

Are you tech skills solely limited to coding? Even if you can't get out of the IT field, you might try a different area. I retired from the Navy (I was an Electronic Technician) at age 39 and got a job as a Network Technician. I got my CCNA, which got my foot in the door. Within three years I'd been promoted to Network Engineer, and now, six years after retiring, I'm the Lead Site Engineer of a network with some 1200 devices and 15,000 users. It's still IT but it's very different from coding.

more than 2 years ago

Reaction To Diablo 3's Always-Online Requirement

B'Trey Re:It seems good (591 comments)

so Blizzard hates and will not support the Troops.

Of course that isn't true, and screaming "But you have to think of the chil^H^H^H^H troops!!!" wasn't the point I was making. I pointed out one particular reason that I personally have been without access to an individual Internet connection for extended periods. There are many other reasons why people don't always have access to a permanent connection.

I suspect, but don't know, that part of the justification for this requirement is anti-piracy, although Blizzard appears not be making that claim publicly. What Blizzard actually thinks is likely either that the small loss of revenue will be worth the benefits provided by the requirements, or that the loss from users not buying the game due to the requirement will be equaled or exceeded by additional sales driven by the anti-piracy measures. If the requirement is indeed solely about protecting the online experience, I pointed out a simple solution to that issue. If it's about anti-piracy, then obviously that solution is irrelevant.

more than 3 years ago

Reaction To Diablo 3's Always-Online Requirement

B'Trey Re:It seems good (591 comments)

Because of the things blizzard is doing this move is needed to help stave of some serious issue that can arise with RMT. I think they are bold for doing this and it makes sense why they would. In this iteration of the series SP has taken a backseat, especially given the popularity of MP in D2.

No, it doesn't make sense. I can respect the desire to avoid cheating and to emphasize solid MP gameplay. But from a technical perspective, how hard would it be to give you a choice of local or server storage for your character at the beginning of a single player game? If you choose server storage, you need an Internet connection and you can use that character in online games. If you choose local storage, no connection required but that character can only be used for single-player games.

If you don't like it, don't buy it. It is not aimed at those who have trouble with the internet. Your troubles with the internet does not supersede the design and direction of the game.

Of course I have the option of not buying it. I also have the option of bitching about a stupid requirement to play a game. My bitching is not aimed at players who see no problem with the requirement. It's aimed at Blizzard, to let them know why I won't be a customer for this game. Your irritation with my bitching doesn't supersede my right to bitch or to let Blizzard know that they have potential customers who are not actual customers because of this decision. If you don't like my bitching, don't read/listen to it.

For what it's worth, my perspective is influenced by serving twenty years in the US Navy. When you're stuck for six months on a ship at sea with no personal Internet connection possible, games become a great way to pass the time. As more and more games make an Internet connection a requirement for playing even single player games, it'll soon get to the point where you aren't choosing to not purchase a particular game but are being forced to give up gaming entirely.

more than 3 years ago

Are Fake Geeks Dooming Real Ones?

B'Trey Re:Explained in D&D terms (492 comments)

I see what you did there. If I had any mod points, I'd give one to you.

more than 3 years ago

Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

B'Trey Re:No. (1486 comments)

Faith is trusting/believing in something you don't understand. Like in many religions, faith often relates to a supernatural mystery (above natural). Regardless if you personally believe in one religion or another, he's talking about the believing in something one doesn't understand. That IS a matter of faith for most people with regard to science.

For most people, science fall into this description. They trust or believe in something they themselves don't really understand.

No, faith is a belief in something which is either not understandable or for which no evidence exists. Trust is, in part, a belief in something you don't understand. The two should not be confused - they are not synonymous.

I don't have faith in the scientific process; I trust it. I don't trust it to be infallible, but I do trust it to be self correcting and to trend towards generating increasingly accurate models of the issues under study.

I have known preachers and ministers whom I trusted. They were good people, earnest in their beliefs. I did not and do not share their faith in religion, but that doesn't stop me from trusting them as individuals.

more than 3 years ago

Anniston, Alabama To Censor Employees' Facebook Pages

B'Trey Re:1st A... (338 comments)

They're not passing a law, they're making rule of employment. You want a job with us, you don't badmouth us. That's perfectly reasonable, whether a private or public employer. If an employee doesn't like it, they can quit. It's that simple.

No, it isn't. They're a government entity, not a private entity and courts, including the SCotUS, have already ruled that public employers have limits to what rules they can enforce.


Banning "anything negative or embarrassing" would include many things that are of "public concern" and be over the legally established lines of what public employers may do.

more than 3 years ago



Allegations regarding OpenBSD IPSEC

B'Trey B'Trey writes  |  more than 4 years ago

B'Trey (111263) writes "Theo de Raadt, of OpenBSD fame, has posted an email which claims the FBI paid open source developers to implant back doors into the OpenBSD IPSEC stack. The email also alleges that these back doors are the reason that government is promoting OpenBSD for use in VPNs and firewalls. Theo is calling for an audit of the code involved."


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